Having the opportunity to hand select and grow a choice selection of rare and unusual perennials for the nursery this year is perhaps the proverbial icing on the cake for me! Its not always easy sourcing out those beguiling genera and species that captivate me, often resulting in ninety percent frustration and exhaustion versus ten percent intrigue – an equation that by all rights should be reversed!
When I had an opportunity to grow a selection of rare and unusual Arisaema species, it was akin to walking backwards in time to a childhood fascination, one, that little did I realize, would become an integral foundation block upon which my gardening philosophy of being a collector/hoarder/connoisseur would pivot! It was Arisaema triphyllum that ushered me to the ‘dark and shady side’ of gardening, and now here I am able to grow some of the most beguiling members of this genus, in hopes of recruiting an entire new legion/army of fellow shady characters!
Arisaema sikokianum has for many years been the most highly sought after species within the genus! I admit to falling under the captivating swoon of A. candidissimum first, but now I’m feeling the effect of sikokianum’s hypnotic swoon! Each leaf is composed of either three or five leaflets, and for those lucky enough, some seedlings possess a striking silver mottling! Native to Shikoku, Japan, it can be said that when in flower it is one of botany’s most striking occurrences! Its deep purple spathe, striped green and white on the inside, with a luxurious collar of brownish-purple, is only surpassed with its startling white, knobby spadix that closely resembles a puffball!
While somewhat difficult to locate in hort commerce, I am thrilled to be able to offer my clients a select [and dwindling] number of these woodland gems which are guaranteed to stop garden visitors in their tracks with the exclamation ‘what is that, what is that?’ on the tip of their tongues.